Jack Campbell 2023 NFL Draft profile: Scout report for the Iowa LB
Just a three-star recruit in 2019, Iowa's Jack Campbell saw very limited action as a true freshman, but already filled the stat sheet pretty well as a backup in Year Two. He exploded in 2021, when he was a second-team All-Big Ten selection, thanks to 140 total tackles, 3.5 for loss, six PBUs, two interceptions and fumble recoveries each, of which he returned one to the house respectively.
This past season, he won the Butkus Award for the top linebacker in the nation and was named Big 10 Defensive Player of the Year and first-team All-American, with very similar numbers to the previous year.
Jack Campbell, Iowa
6’5”, 245 pounds; Redshirt senior
- Has oldschool measurements for the position and plays with a great combination of instincts and trust in film study
- One of those guys who just sees plays coming before they happen, and he plays faster than his time speed (4.65 in the 40) would indicate – legitimately reads out plays between the tackles and sorts through the trash to great effect
- Routinely squeezes through the crease between blockers and churns his legs to stop the momentum of ballcarriers. It's almost looks like a running back trying to drive ahead as he’s in contact against those guys
- When meeting a lead- or insert-blocker in the hole, Campbell typically stands that guy up and forces the ballcarrier to stop his feet momentarily at least
- His hands to shed are rapid and effective, while the length allows him to be first to initiate contact and keep his frame clean mostly
- Has some excellent lateral agility to sidestep linemen working up to him and getting his hands on the guy with the ball, which putting up the top marks in the three-cone (6.74) and short-shuttle (4.24) at the combine backs up
- This guy just finds a way to bring ballcarriers to the ground, whether it’s head-on collisions, having to twist them down from the side or dive after guys to just trip them up. And with his strength, he consistently makes sure that guy goes backwards once he arrives there
- Won’t stop pursuing the ball and gets involved on every other tackle it seems like
- Has great awareness and length to pop the ball up when quarterbacks try to throw crossers over his head
- His height also makes it challenging to put the ball out in front for guys streaking down the seams when he’s carrying them
- Active communicator in zone coverage, who points out targets he’s passing off from his area
- Understands when he’s being high-low stretched and is ready to make tackles for minimal yardage if the ball is completed in front of him – 19 coverage stops his past season
- Was the highest-graded LB in coverage according to PFF (92.9) last season, who continues ripping through the hands of receivers in his area to dislodge the ball
- You’ll see him flow lateral run-fakes in order to take care of his assignments if the ball is actually handed off, but be light enough on his feet to change direction and gain depth quickly
- So consistent with his angles in space and meeting guys at the sideline, breaking down in space and slinging guys dynamic skill players to the ground
- Takes a very aggressive approach when matched one-on-one with the back and often doesn’t even let them get into their routes/past the line of scrimmage cleanly
- In the screen game and when being matched up with somebody having to fight over rubs, he’s consistently the one landing his hands and working off contact
- Tremendous at timing up his blitzes, without giving anything away typically
- Does well to sort through the trash as an add-on rusher or green-dogs
- Doesn’t quite have that flat-out speed to run down ballcarriers from the backside as some other top LB prospects like Clemson’s Trenton Simpson, for example, and you see some backs beat him towards the sideline after catching the ball out in the flat
- Not somebody who’ll just shoot through gaps and create negative plays, with only nine of his 265 combined tackles these past two seasons being for loss
- Made plays as a coverage player in Iowa’s scheme, but if he had to actually run with receivers vertically or just match smaller bodies truly in man coverage, with lots of space and no help, he’ll probably struggle. The NFL may find ways to isolate that aspect of his game
- When he’s mugged over the center or can’t shoot through a gap as a blitzer, too often his rush stalls, allowing blockers to square him up
It’s rare to find a linebacker like Campbell these days, with how much lighter that position has become to counter offenses spreading them out. This guy is a true old-school MIKE, who can consistently stack-and-shed offensive linemen and create stalemates in the hole against big backs.
Campbell doesn’t have a ton of range, but his short-area burst is more than adequate, and as his numbers at the combine proved, he has shocking agility for a player his size.
He won’t make a ton of splash plays at the next level or be somebody who you feel great about flexing out into the slot, but he’s absolutely a three-down player who will instantly boost your run defense and be a valuable piece in coverage, with his awareness, length and open-field tackling skills.
Grade: Late first round
You might like other 2023 NFL Draft Scouting Reports: Noah Sewell, LB, Oregon, Drew Sanders, LB, Arkansas, Daiyan Henley, LB, Washington State, Henry To'o To'o, LB, Alabama, DeMarvion Overshown, LB, Texas, Ivan Pace Jr., LB, Cincinnati, Dorian Williams, LB, Tulane, Jeremy Banks, LB, Tennessee.
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